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Alejo Carpentier's voyages to the Amazon in 1947 and 1948 gave him plenty of inspiration to write his novel Los pasos perdidos. However, the premise of the novel (the "problems" of the Latin American composer) predates these Amazonian expeditions. By examining the novel alongside several essays and crónicas, in this article I present Carpentier's hope for the Latin American artist's ability to create freely: disengaged from the pressure of having to either conform to European traditions or fully embrace Latin America's myths and natural landscape. In doing so, I analyze Carpentier's complex views towards Richard Wagner, which are informed by Nietzsche, and I ultimately propose that for Carpentier, the model for Latin American composers is Arnold Schoenberg, despite the disinterest expressed towards his compositional techniques by the unnamed protagonist in Los pasos perdidos.